Playful Practice: Beth Clark

Two colour imagess of a woodland floor covered in bluebells. The image on the left is of the whole forest, the image on the right is a close up of one bluebell.

The importance of the arts in our everyday lives has become even more apparent after our time spent in lockdowns. In this new series of blog posts Redeye hears from photographers who take pictures for the joy of it, in particular looking at how photography can improve our wellbeing and be beneficial for our mental health. If you would like to submit your work to this series please get in touch at chat@redeye.org.uk

 

Beth Clark is a 20 year old student at the University of Salford studying BA (Hons) Photography. She is interested in mainly film photography and natural landscapes, but also in digital photography and documentary and portraiture aspects within that. 

 

Could you tell me about your background within photography?

My love for photography started on family walks, where my Dad would always be stopping and snapping the landscape around us. Eventually I got to picking my GCSE’s and Photography was one of the options my school provided. Since then, I have gone from asking to have a go on my Dad’s camera on walks, to being in my final year at the University of Salford studying Photography. Studying the medium at University has introduced me to a variety of ways to utilise a lens, ranging from digital to analogue and experimental methods in the darkroom. Our first ever module on the course taught me about film photography and how to operate in a darkroom, and since then my work has become mainly film-based or film-inspired. I especially love film photography because the process is so intimate and you are really taking control of the image forming process, giving the work this rich and meaningful quality. In this way you’re transcending who you are onto the scene in front of you, and it's this transcendence of expression that keeps me coming back to the medium. 

Do you find that photography has any impact on your wellbeing?

Photography is really a form of escapism for me. Developing and enlarging photographs in the darkroom is satisfying, but also the journey in taking photographs: slowing down, getting the composition right and focusing on the finer details in front of you, all really takes me to that meditative space. That space where I can just escape, be present and not feel stressed or distracted by the world outside the camera frame. I found this true especially in the first lockdown, when the sun was almost constantly shining, and I would find myself in nature, in my garden or the local woods in Sheffield, and just being drawn to appreciating and enjoying these moments of shimmering life we can sometimes overlook. This led to a body of work called Locked Down, which was all taken over the first lockdown in the UK. Some of the images are show on this page. The short description on my website is a reference to an email I sent to my Grandad. Using my photography was a way to communicate and stay in touch with him because of restrictions. I think this shows how photography is also a way to keep in touch with people and goes further than just benefitting the photographer's mental health, but the people it reaches too.

As the pandemics gone on, my degree has really pushed me to keep being creative, and to keep exploring the spaces around me in greater detail. My creative friends I have met on the course also inspire me with their work; we really work together as a team coming up with fresh ideas. I also take inspiration from other forms of art I consume, such as from films or books I come across. Delving into older photobooks, like magazines from the 1970s, has introduced me to a lot of classic and experimental ways to use a camera, and how photography is limitless as well as timeless! It’s a nice break from the Instagram feed, although I get a lot of inspiration from there too. A couple of my favourite accounts are @f1rstoftheroll and @restorefrombackup.

How do you balance your time between being creative and making a living?

As I’m currently a student, I currently make a living working part time at a theatre bar. This means I normally balance my time by being creative in the day and working hard in the evening. But it’s really all about carrying the same energy through everything I do, and by doing that staying congruent and keeping the flow of creativity going.

What are your future plans for your photography?

In the future I plan to get my photography out from the 2D world and into the physical, hopefully in exhibitions and by setting up a shop on my website where people can buy prints. I also want to do more freelance work. I did a photoshoot for an upcoming artist, Izzy, earlier in 2021, and really enjoyed working with digital and portraiture photography. It also made me realise working alongside people and capturing their essence to make them heard and seen in the world is something I definitely have a passion for, and therefore is something I see myself doing in the future.

 

See more from Beth:

Website: https://bethcphotography.myportfolio.com

Instagram: @bethgotphotos

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